Lessons from the football field: playing to your strengths

Lessons from the football field: playing to your strengths

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At 1.73 metres tall and 78kg, he is small in stature. It’s trait not commonly found amongst his peers on the AFL football field, but he more than makes up for it with his grit and determination.

Paul Puopolo, affectionately known as ‘Poppy’, plays for the Hawthorn Hawks. Whether or not you barrack for the Hawks, many can’t argue that he is one tough player. While Poppy lacks height, he has an abundance of energy, force and power. He plays in the small forward position and is a hunter-gatherer. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of one of his tackles.

Over the weekend, I had the good fortune of observing him perform his craft. For me, Poppy is a shining example of a person leveraging his strengths to his full potential.

But what if we placed Poppy in the ruck? A completely different position on the footy field, and one that typically requires a tall player. Would it be a good outcome for Poppy? A good outcome for his team?

The answer is probably not.

His team would not win as many hit-outs, which could cost them the game, and result in Poppy being dropped from the team. Not a great outcome!

You see, you are more likely to be happy, motivated and successful if you are working to your strengths. Using them to your advantage. Poppy’s example is an obvious one, but it’s transferable to other workspaces too.

If you’re not great at numbers, should you become an accountant? If you like security, should you become a contractor? If you’re creative, should you work on a factory line? You get the point.

The problem is, not many people are fully aware of their strengths. And they’re even less likely to be able to cover them off in an elevator pitch to a prospective employer. We’ve all been on the receiving end of a “what are your key strengths” question.

If we don’t understand our strengths, we have a small chance of being able to work to them effectively let alone articulate them. You should be clear on what they are, and in communicating them well you’ll open a world of possibilities. Especially when you’re considering what job or career is right for you.

So, your task this week is three-fold:

1)      Define and understand your strengths

2)      Tell your boss what your strengths are. No, I’m not kidding – take the test below, print the results, and take them to your next one-on-one

3)      Determine if your current role is working to your strengths. Are you finding yourself in the ruck, when you’re more of a small forward?

Once you’ve completed all three of the above steps, you can then take this to the next level and understand the strengths of your teammates. I’m sure you’ll find a great ruck person!

Need pointers on determining your signature strengths?

There’s no shortage of online surveys that will uncover your strengths, but here’s a commonly used (and free!) one – the VIA Survey. Even if you’ve done it before, it doesn’t hurt to do it again. And don’t forget to print it to show your boss!

Looking for more job search or career growth tips & tricks? Keep an eye on my weekly blog.

Quote of the week: Build on your strengths, work on your weaknesses – Minh Tan